Judges 20:18

18 The people of Israel arose and went up to 1Bethel and inquired of God, 2"Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, 3"Judah shall go up first."

Judges 20:18 Meaning and Commentary

Judges 20:18

And the children of Israel arose
From Mizpeh, where they were assembled, having heard that the Benjaminites were gathered together to defend the men of Gibeah:

and went up to the house of God;
to the tabernacle which was in Shiloh, ( Judges 18:31 ) , see ( Joshua 18:1 ) though the Targum takes Bethel for the name of a place so called; and so do Ben Gersom and Josephus F16, which was near Shiloh, for Shiloh is said to be on the north side of Bethel, ( Judges 21:19 ) but as there is no reason to believe the tabernacle was now removed from Shiloh thither, so it is not likely they would go to any other place but where the tabernacle ark, and high priest were:

and asked counsel of God;
before Phinehas the high priest, according to the judgment of Urim and Thummim, ( Judges 20:28 )

and said which of us shall go up first to the battle against the
children of Benjamin?
there being no supreme magistrate, judge, or general, to lead them; they did not ask whether they should go to war or no with their brethren; they made no doubt of that, taking it for granted they had sufficient reason for so doing, and that it was according to the will of God; nor did they inquire whether they should be victorious or not, they made no doubt of being victorious, both from their superior numbers, and the justness of their cause; they only inquire who should lead them on, having no general; and this they might do, to prevent any contentions among them about being precedence:

and the Lord said, Judah shall go up first:
which tribe pitched their standard first about the tabernacle, and marched first in their journeys in the wilderness, and was ordered to go up first and fight the Canaanites, being a powerful and warlike tribe.


F16 Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 2. sect. 10.)

Judges 20:18 In-Context

16 Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
17 And the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered 400,000 men who drew the sword; all these were men of war.
18 The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, "Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Judah shall go up first."
19 Then the people of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah.
20 And the men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin, and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gibeah.

Cross References 3

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.